The website planned to unveil the changes on Tuesday, though word of the looming announcement got out earlier today, and so the launch was brought forward.
In foregoing fees for private repos (well, those with up to three collaborators), GitHub brings its pricing model more in line with rivals like Atlassian's BitBucket, which provides private repos with up to five collaborators at no charge, and GitLab, which charges nothing for unlimited repos, no matter how many collaborators are involved.
Public GitHub repositories will remain free as before.
Asked whether Microsoft's deep pockets led to GitHub's revenue refusal, Kathy Simpson, senior director of product at GitHub, told The Register, "We are really excited about GitHub Free and being able to bring unlimited private repositories to the community. We want it to be easy for all developers to build the software they want regardless of where they are in their journey and Microsoft is very much in alignment with this mission."
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Those worried about that GitHub will crumble under the weight of freeloaders can relax. The company still vacuums considerable cash through its paid service tiers. There's a Pro tier for $7/month that includes unlimited collaborators and code review tools. There's a Teams tier for $9/month.
And the Enterprise tier, for $21/month, is a rebranded business offering that combines Enterprise Cloud and Enterprise Server, the former being a cloud service and the latter being GitHub bits you can install on-premises. GitHub Enterprise is intended to work in conjunction with GitHub Connect, the code biz's way to bridge the open source world and more guarded corporate development through identity, search, and contribution tracking systems.
The bottom line: if you were paying $7/month for a developer account, you're now a "Pro" user. You can downgrade from Pro to free, and still keep your private repos, from your settings page. Pro users get a few extra features over free accounts: some code review tools for private repos.
In a further sign of potential parent company synergy, GitHub said devs can now create pull requests directly from GitHub Pull Requests, an extension for Microsoft Visual Studio Code, the Windows maker's Electron-based cross-platform code editor. Other extension changes include the ability to create suggested code changes that get stored as comments with a repo diff for side-by-side comparison and an option to stage suggested changes if they haven't yet been staged.
Finally, if you're worried that using a free service means you're the product, you can always install GitLab for free on your own server. ®